Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Your Wedding

There's a ring on your finger. Now what? Read on: Perfect planning starts here.

Getting Started

engagement photoMake the announcement: Some couples just don’t feel right if anyone knows their big news before their parents and other close family members do. If possible, tell both sets of folks in person. If your parents don’t live nearby, put in a special phone call.

Delve into dreams: Sit down with your fiancé and talk ideas. Think about the style you’d like, whether it’s a beach bash, a sit-down dinner in a ballroom or a ceremony on a mountaintop. No talk of money. Yet.

Rough out the timing: While you don’t have to set a firm date now, it’s smart to have an idea of what month or season you want to marry in. Then you’ll know how long you have to get things organized. Because your wedding’s size determines where you’ll hold the party, how much it will cost (prices usually rise per guest) and whether travel will be involved, creating a guest list is one of the most important things to do. So make your list; your fiancé and both families should do the same. You can, and likely will, cut later, but this first number will be your base.

Now talk money: It’s rare these days that the bride’s parents pick up the whole bill, so decide on your bottom line. Find out from both sets of parents if or how much they can contribute.

Get organized: Buy a notebook and separate it into sections for each budget category. This way you can write down the amount you want to spend on the item and then note your expenditures. As you near your limits, you can start to figure out ways to cut costs. 

Photo Credit: Emily Anne

Finding Your Venue

bride and groom with bubbles
Photo Credit: Devon and Adam Knudson/Devo Photography

Ceremony who and where: Finding an officiant and a ceremony site can be simple—if, say, you wish to marry in your hometown house of worship. Even if you’re no longer living in the area, you may have family who still are and can help out. Sometimes for the sake of convenience, couples choose a place that’s in between their homes and their parents’. And then there’s the destination wedding; just make sure that everyone you really want to join you and your groom can afford to travel and is able to make it.

The reception venue: Think again about those wedding dreams, and see how they mesh with reality. Perhaps you envision an outdoor garden. Fine, but what if you can’t find just the right place or the weather is an issue? Maybe there’s a quaint hotel with a pretty courtyard that would suit. Some couples find historic homes in their area to rent. Use local resources to narrow down options: a wedding planner or a recently married friend. Check wedding websites and bridal magazines. Then start scheduling visits.

Next: Hiring your vendors, choosing your bridesmaids, and buying your gown ►

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